Nothing is more scary than being pregnant and finding out that you have started bleeding. Vaginal bleeding is any type of blood that is coming from the vagina (the uterine canal leading to the genitals).
There are several different causes for bleeding during the first trimester. This bleeding can affect 20%-30% of all pregnancies and half of those will go on to experience a miscarriage (lose the baby). Another cause for bleeding during the first trimester could be an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus. The embryo could implant in the Fallopian tubes or in the abdominal cavity, in which case the pregnancy must be terminated or this could be fatal to the mother.
Implantation Bleeding: this bleeding occurs when the egg implants into the side of the uterine wall. This will normally happen 6-12 days after ovulation and could be around the same time that your period is due, which could lead to some confusion.
Blighted Ovum: this is where the embryo failed to develop in the proper location as it should. This happens when the embryo is abnormal in any way.
Threatened Miscarriage: this is when, by ultrasound, the fetus is still inside the uterus but the outcome of the pregnancy is still in question. Causes for this type of bleeding would be things like, urinary tract infection, dehydration, trauma, medication you’re taking, or sometimes for no apparent reason. Threatened miscarriages are not generally cause by things you do, like sex, lifting heavy objects, or emotional stress.
Incomplete Miscarriage: this is when you are having a miscarriage but your body is still in the process of removing it. Your cervix will still be open to pass the clots, blood, and tissue of the remaining pregnancy.
Completed Miscarriage: also known as a spontaneous abortion, a completed miscarriage is when your bleeding and cramping has slowed and an ultrasound shows that there is no longer a pregnancy in the uterus. This is the most common cause of first trimester bleeding.
Ectopic Pregnancy: this type of pregnancy is also called a tubal pregnancy. An ultrasound and sometimes laboratory results can confirm this. This is when the egg implants in either the Fallopian tubes or the uterine cavity. This type of first trimester bleeding is the most dangerous type. If the egg continues to grow it will rupture the Fallopian tube and cause internal bleeding that could result in the death of the mother. The most common symptom for and ectopic pregnancy is pain generating on one side of the uterus. This pain will normally start happening before the 10th week in the pregnancy and affects around 3% of all pregnancies.
Some causes of bleeding may not be related to pregnancy at all. These include tears in the vaginal wall, trauma, and some types of infections. If you have any bleeding at all, and you’re pregnant, do not take this lightly. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as any bleeding happens.